It was a pretty nice night out, just getting ready to rain, so it had warmed up like it usually does here before precipitation. The band had already finished one set when I bumped into Burt Winn outside in the street.
Burt is playing bass for Eugene Huggins tonight, though he has also played with the late Johnny Nitro for 11 years. Burt filled me in on a few things of late and we went in for the second set. The joint was jumping with the usual crowd and the merriment could be felt immediately.
In addition to Huggins and Winn, the band consisted of Steve Freund on guitar and Robbie Bean on drums.
Eugene Huggins was in good form playing the classic blues harmonica, sounding a lot like Little Walter. Starting off with “Hip Shake” and “Mustang Sally,” the music came alive with Steve Freund’s burning guitar weaving in and out of the drenching wet harmonica blues.
Huggins lead the band through 11 songs that included smokers like “I Got My MoJo Workin” and “Mona.” The dance floor was busy all the time.
Huggins is a well known figure in Sausalito. Having lived here all his life, he learned the blues and harmonica as a boy. He led two bands over a span of decades; The Casuals and Eugene and The Bluejeans.
The Bluejeans played every major party in Sausalito for about twenty years. He now appears with various band lineups under his own name. Tonight’s lineup is about the most usual.
Huggins is also in demand by top artists to lend his harmonica skills. He has played with Chuck Berry, Carlos Santana, Tom Waits and many other well known singers.
Burt Winn also helped out on vocals, singing the Bill Withers classic, “Ain’t No Sunshine” and later “Pink Cadillac.”
As mentioned above, Winn played with Johnny Nitro And The Doorslammers for many years. He has been playing with the remnants of the Doorslammers at the Saloon in North Beach since Nitro’s death February 19th. They have been playing in Nitro’s old time slot which is Friday and Sunday.
Winn also plays regularly with the Powell Street Blues band, Jan Fanucchi, Chris Taylor and Kathy Tjeska. When he’s done playing the blues, Winn studies carnatic music, the classic music of southern India.
Steve Freund knows his way around the guitar and every song has his signature vamps and endings on it. He has that wonderful combination of taste and skill that set his music apart from the crowd.
Steve plays regularly with his girlfriend, Jan Fanucchi at the Saloon in North Beach and they will be at there next Friday the 25th. Freund will be there the night before with his own band. Steve and Jan also appear at Graffiti’s Bar in Petaluma on the first and second Friday of every month.
The Doorslammers are likely to continue on with Joe Lococo on guitar, Chad Harris on keyboards and drumming duties shared by Rick Sankey and Robin Roth.
The untimely death of Johnny Nitro has saddened us all and it will take some time to get over it. His many wonderful renditions of the classic rock and blues will be missed. Not to mention the many sarcastic and humorous songs he composed.
Many memorials are planned for Nitro including one this Saturday at the No Name Bar from 6-8:30. He was scheduled to play there at that time.
There will be one the next day at the Saloon and another on March 30th at the Little Redwood Theater in Redwood City. For details go to